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Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

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Why Are Blackbirds Black?

Why are blackbirds black? One possible answer is that black is conspicuous against just about all of Nature's backgrounds. Blackbirds, like this flock of Red-winged Blackbirds and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, feed on the ground. Whenever a predator approaches, they take flight. Coming together... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Red-wings and Yellow-heads

The Red-winged Blackbird is a familiar denizen of cattail marshes throughout Washington. In marshes east of the Cascades, Red-wings must share space with a larger cousin, the Yellow-headed Blackbird. The two species don't share evenly. Zoologist and blackbird expert Gordon Orians writes: "When... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

Singing Like a Bird and Feeling Good

Every now and then, don’t you just want to belt it out? Imagine singing like a Black-headed Grosbeak! Or what about a Carolina Wren? Picture warbling like a House Finch. All this just too rambunctious for you? The call of the American Bittern more your style? Or this Yellow-headed Blackbird?... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, sound

Voices of our National Public Lands

September 24, 2016, is National Public Lands Day. Comprising nearly 850 million acres of land and 3.5 million square miles of ocean, our public lands and waters provide habitats vital to more than 1,000 species of birds, including this Bachman’s Sparrow. The diversity and richness of bird voices... read more »

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Blackbirds' Strange Music

Blackbird songs have a strange music. The Red-winged Blackbird can be heard in nearly every marsh on the continent — bold, brassy, and piercing. The songs may not seem musical, but they definitely get your attention. Brewer’s Blackbirds, which live in open habitats like farms and grasslands, make... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Marsh Voices at Sunrise

In marshes across the country, birds awaken on a summer morning. Tall dense grasses and reeds often make marsh birds hard to see, but their voices carry easily across the lush, green landscape. You can hear birds like the Redhead, the Sora, the American Bittern, the Ruddy Duck, this Yellow-headed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization
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